#independenceday: “Pakistan is not yet independent”

This independence day, poet Hasan Mujtaba contemplates the meaning of freedom, and recites his new poem, Bol Ke Lab Azaad Nahin Hain (Speak, For Your Lips Are Not Free) .

Video direction by Sofian Khan, and production by Annie Ali Khan. English transcript by Khwaja Hamzah Saif.

*     *     *                              ENGLISH TRANSCRIPT                              *     *     *

Hasan Mujtaba: I wrote this poem on the killing of Sabeen Mahmood. Sabeen Mahmood, who is today’s and tomorrow’s Pakistan. Today’s for the way she stood up for numerous causes, for the way she provided space for all, and in the quest of which she was murdered. This is a Pakistan of today.

Speak, for your lips are not free 1

Speak, as truth wearing chains has disappeared in the shadow of guns
Speak, your voice has been locked up
Speak, your songs are being watched
Speak, for your lips are not free

Say that speaking of Balochistan is a crime today
Say that the bullet, all five bullets are its testimony
Lodged in her young being
Speak, for your lips are not free

Speak, for your lips are not free
Mutilated bodies lie on top
Our eyes, so unsighted
The sun not seen in years
Speak, for your lips are not free

Say that your land
Is no longer yours
And the sea, shores, no longer yours
Speak, for your lips are not free

Say that reciting such a poem is no longer ‘safe’
Say that under such a roof,
Film, literature, music, art
Coffee drinking,
Are improper all

Tell, Karachi, your tale
A speaking woman
An unarmed woman

Tell, Karachi, your tale
A speaking woman
An unarmed woman
Threatens power

An unarmed woman is soaked in blood
Brutality after brutality, a woman bears
Tell, when will she be free?
Say, now she’ll be free
Speak, for your lips are not free

Speak Balochistan, for now
Speak dear Pukhtoonkhwa, for now
Speak my Sindh, for now
Speak, for our lips are not free

Say that in one of the scales
Lie heavy, leaden boots
In there lie all the lies
Speak, for your lips are not free

In this deceitful world, beloved
Weigh the heavy scale of truth
Speak, for your lips are not free
Speak, for your lips are not free

Annie Ali Khan: What does independence mean for you?

Hasan Mujtaba: Independence does not mean for me what is being celebrated in Pakistan now, today; that is a cliché. Trumpets, trinkets, drumming, lights, parades and such.
Independence means complete freedom; freedom of the spirit. Most importantly, independence for women, independence for minorities, whether sexual or religious. The independence of contemplation and thought. You are seeing that such freedoms are scarce. Pakistan has not yet become independent. There is a long journey for its freedom, and the destination has not yet arrived.

  1. Translated into English by Nosheen Ali for Umang Poetry; edited for this recitation []

2 Responses to #independenceday: “Pakistan is not yet independent”

  1. kaleem Leghari on Aug 2015 at 1:02 PM

    it is really great to read your poem Ahmed. I think perhaps you belong to the fourth generations since Pakistan came into existence, who is pointing your finger to this ‘myth of Independence’ we so called celebrate in August.you beautifully points to this myth of Independence in a very subtle and poetic way with the indication that it is high time for all to raise to the occasion like Sabeen Mehmood did if we all want that our future generation should live in real peace ,enjoying the real Independence. Great lines my dear Ahmed Mujtaba. i personally feel proud too as I seee you growing old and mature as I have only saw you when you are still too young.Keep it up my dear…. ” bol keh lub azad hain teray….:)

  2. kaleem Leghari on Aug 2015 at 1:16 PM

    Sorry Ahmed Kindly delete my last line… “i know you personally….when you were too young” .. as I mistook you for another person. However I stay to all my words of appreciation to you.regards. Kaleem

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.